Character(s) or Pairing(s): Germany, America
Warnings: LANGUAGE GEEKERY, and questions perhaps best left unasked.
Summary: Something very, very silly that I could not for the life of me get out of my head. You may all thank sora_ko for this.
"America," said Germany, just as soon as he'd managed to keep from choking on his coffee. He dabbed at the corner of the creased, battered paper in front of him in a vain attempt to preserve its last remaining shreds of dignity. "You cannot repeat this to the Chancellor."
"What?" America threw an arm over the back of his chair and sipped from his own mug, smiling perplexedly. "Aw, c'mon, I thought it'd be really neat, you know? New President, new government, new foreign re-whatsit thing, uh, relations. Plus Biden's totally big on international cooperation and stuff, not that I wanna spoil it or anything, 'cause his speech is gonna rock. So I just thought to myself, I thought, 'hey, America, you know a little German--'"
"You say that about every language," Germany pointed out, cracking the top of his hard-boiled egg with his spoon.
"--Whatever, 'you know a little German, so wouldn't it be cool if you showed up and chatted with ol' Angie a little in her own language, just to prove how super serious you are about being better friends?'" He nudged an imaginary Chancellor with his elbow at the last part, to Germany's horror. "So I wrote down a coupla phrases I might need to refresh my memory. What's so weird about that?"
"I...I appreciate the sentiment," Germany said, once he had regained some composure. Then he scowled and picked up the paper, snapping it in his hand as though trying to infuse some sense into it (though all he managed was to shake off more of the lint from America's back pocket). "But about this one," he continued, flipping the page to show America. "Why on Earth would you ever, ever feel the need to say this to Frau Merkel?"
America squinted at the lines in his own uneven scrawl, then leaned back again and adjusted his spectacles. "That? I dunno, I figured it's January, right, so she'd probably have the heater on in her office if we hung out, and you guys are always so weird about that, all opening the windows to let the cold in and then shutting them up again so it gets really really gross and stuffy and there's no fresh air and somebody has to complain before you do it all over again, so I thought just in case--"
Germany's eyes widened in realization. "Ah. Stop right there." And he leaned back precariously far in his chair, much to America's amusement, whom he had only recently scolded for the very same thing, and flicked a counter drawer open with one hand. A brief moment of digging, and then both chair and Germany came rocking back to the table with a dull scrape of wood on tile. "So." Germany clicked the pen down decisively and descended on America's crinkled list. He put a neat line through the phrase in question and wrote his own version above it in clear, even print, then slid the paper over to America. "That is what you should say in that situation, America."
America stared. "Oh." He stared more. "But that's dumb. I mean, wait, that's like saying 'me is...', right?" He looked up in honest concern. "Are you...are you trying to make me sound stupid?"
"Most decidedly not," said Germany flatly, clicking the pen again. "It's a grammatical thing. Perhaps I'll try to explain it to you some day. For now, just trust me on this." When America's crestfallen expression did not fade, he sighed and pulled the sheet back towards his side of the table. "But I'll have a look at the rest of these, if you like."
"'Kay!" America brightened instantly and finished his coffee. The mug made a merry little thunk on the table when he set it down, beaming. "Oh hey! You know what we should do?"
"No," said Germany, still writing. Some bits he circled, some he scratched out, some he scratched out several times in rapid succession, all the while adding his own corrections in the already crowded margins.
"We should practice!" America gushed, fanning his hands out excitedly. "You could totally help me warm up and stuff! I haven't spoken German in ages, seriously, it's crazy."
Germany expressed his agreement. America ignored him.
"Maaan, it really has been forever, come to think of it," he mused. "Kennedy had a lot of fun with it, and I 'member really trying to get into it back when Mr. Twain was still around--you remember him? Old Mark? God was he awesome--but it always gave me such a headache and I never could figure out all that stuff with haben gehabt sind gewesen geworden ge-thingy at the end of every sentence and oh hey, is it still cool to say 'also' when you've forgotten something, 'cause I forget a lot of things and it's good to have something to throw in there when you can't--"
"America," said Germany, muffled over the hand he had buried his face in by now. "If you wish to practice your German, maybe it would be a good idea to stop speaking in English for a moment."
"Oh oh oh, good point, man. Ok. No English from here on," America declared with an emphatic gesture. He framed the table within his own hands as though shooting a high-budget action scene. "This is a German breakfast."
Germany looked up at the table's contents blearily. "Well," he hazarded. "Yes." But America was helping himself to the bread sternly and, above all, silently, so he picked up the pen and went back to averting an international incident in relative peace, content to leave America to this new game for as long as it would keep him quiet.
Oh course, America always did have trouble with long games.
"Er." Germany heard rather than saw the awkward shuffling. "So, um. Hey."
"Auf Deutsch?" he prompted, cooly.
"Oh. Yea--Ja.. Um."
Germany waited for precisely ten seconds more of awkward silence before relenting and looking up. America cleared his throat and pointed at the small dish to Germany's right.
"Wh-what's 'butter', again?"
"Butter, said Germany, propping his chin on his hand.
America kept staring at it warily. "And it'sssss...DER Butter?"
"Die," corrected Germany, but he gave America a little nod for remembering the articles to begin with.
"And. Um. And please? I totally remember that one, seriously, but..."
Germany took a sip of his coffee and glanced wistfully on the clock on the wall. "Bitte."
"Awesome. I mean, toll." Of course America knew toll. "So!" He cleared his throat, swelling in his seat like a master orator. "Die Butter, bitte."
There were, of course, more proper, complete ways of phrasing it, but America was clearly trying and his accent really wasn't terrible, so Germany nodded approvingly and handed the dish over to him. "Bitte."
America stopped, blinking, while they each still had a hand on the butter dish. "What?"
"No, wait, time out. You just, you just said what I said. Did I say it wrong? What'd I do?"
Germany frowned, then sighed again. "Ah. Nichts. Nothing. Bitte means more than just 'please', remember? You can use it when you answer a request, too. Like a 'here you go', I suppose."
"Oh, right! Sweet! I forgot." America laughed, reassured, and started helping himself to the butter. "Danke."
America threw his knife down. "Are you funning me?"
"It's a versatile word, alright?" Germany snapped, pushing back in his chair a little. "And there is no reason you shouldn't be able to grasp this. It really isn't that complicated, America."
"Ok, whatever, but what I don't get," America whined, "what I don't get is this stupid gender thing! You know, in English, things are its. Things aren't hes and shes and okay, so I guess you have its too, but that just means you should know better because Spain and France are weird enough about this stuff as it is and it's completely bonkers, Germany, and I swear there is nothing super girly about butter I can think of 'cept that it comes from a cow but that's a really stupid way to remember things when you're talking with the Chancellor." He stopped to catch his breath. Germany watched, almost impressed despite himself. "And, and sometimes it's not even the same in different languages so I get all mixed up and I have to relearn everything! Like, ok..." America cast about on the table and picked up the jar closest to him, pointing. "--Ok, so say France says this thing is a chick, but how the hell do I know which gender it is in--"
Germany blanched. "That is a question you don't want to ask, America," he hissed.
America scowled. "What? Why not? All I wanna know is what gender Nu--"
"Waitwaitwaitwaitwait, what?" Germany groaned halfway through frantically trying to shush America when Prussia materialized in the kitchen. It was downright eerie, how sensitive his hearing had gotten since dying or reincarnating or whatever it was that had actually happened to him. "Are we talking about Nutella again? 'Cause if so, don't you buy a fucking word this guy tells you, specs, it's goddamn feminine."
"It's a loan word," said Germany through gritted teeth, before America could pipe up again. He twisted in his chair to glare at Prussia, currently perched on the counter peeling a banana. "No, more than that, it's a made-up brand name. It's neutral, and we are not going to get into this again, so let's just drop it."
"Oh my god," cried Prussia, while America nearly gave himself whiplash looking from one to the other. "You are such a gigantic liar, what is that even like?" He waved his hands as though guiding an airplane through particularly dense fog. "It's Nusscreme, okay, die Nusscreme, so it's feminine and you can just shut the hell up and stop eating it if you don't like it!"
Germany looked daggers in the direction of the countertop. "It comes in a glass, Prussia. Ein Glas."
"So does die Marmalade, idjit. You know what, screw this, hold on a sec," he started to mutter, before America interrupted.
"You know what it is, it's freaking delicious," he marveled, having screwed open the lid and dipped his knife in to sample. "I mean, geez, I finally get what Canada's always going on about now! Seriously, you guys, it's like an orgy in my mouth." He brightened suddenly. "Hey, so how would you s--"
"I am not translating 'it's like an orgy in my mouth' into German for you," Germany said, now borderline murderous. Meanwhile, Prussia snapped his fingers for their attention, still listening on the kitchen phone he had dialed only a moment before.
"Uh-huh, yeah, okay, hate you too," he said, before hanging up. He glanced down at the table. "So that priss Austria says it should be feminine. Something about words ending in -a and French and maybe Latin or something, I dunno." He paused, thinking. "Ok, fuck it, I'm changing my answer. It's der Nutella."
As America rocked back and forth in his chair and watched the developing argument before him with nothing but the purest academic interest, he tried to think of just what Mark Twain might have had to say in this situation. Something terribly clever, he was sure, but nothing seemed to come to mind, and anyway America seriously doubted even Mr. Twain could stop those two from bickering when they really got into it. Family was weird like that.
"Also," he said anyway, for good measure, and dipped his knife back into the jar.
"Mir ist heiß." --> A perfectly acceptable means of conveying that one feels unpleasantly warm in a given location.
"Ich bin heiß." --> Something which should not be repeated in polite company, particularly not in the presence of Chancellors.
Mark Twain, quoted in the lj-cut, had quite a bit to say about German, all the more hilarious because every word of it is deliciously true.
Don't ask about Nutella. Don't even.